US plan for Israeli-Palestinian conflict discussed in Bahrain

World Today

The newest plan for peace in the Middle East is off to a rocky start. The White House is proposing a road map to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It’s being discussed at an investment summit in Bahrain, led by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and White House advisor Jared Kushner.

As CGTN’s Gerald Tan reports from Washington, there are significant questions about how much support the plan can muster.

Protesting on the streets, Palestinians reject what the White House calls the “opportunity of the century.”

The Trump administration is presenting its plan at the Manama conference in Bahrain. The vision: to drum up $50 billion in foreign investment and infrastructure projects… economic benefits to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Speaking at the opening of the conference, Kushner said: “Agreeing on an economic pathway forward is a necessary pre-condition to resolving what is a previously unsolvable political situation.”

But the proposal — dubbed Peace to Prosperity — is heavily criticized for not addressing the core political issues that define this long-standing conflict.

“I have not seen in the document any reference to settlements. We have not seen in the document any reference to ending occupation. This workshop is simply a political laundry for settlements and a legitimization of occupation,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said.

The Palestinian leadership is boycotting the conference. And the Israelis aren’t invited. Many are asking exactly how viable this peace plan can be when the two main players aren’t at the table.

According to Khalil Jahshan, the Executive Director of the Arab Center, “There is a body of conventional wisdom that brings the parties together if they’re serious about negotiating peace. And that’s the problem in this case. We’re talking about improving the lot of the Palestinians without liberating them from foreign occupation. Until that happens, there is no way you can improve their lot.”

This economic plan is the latest in a series of dramatic policy shifts by U.S. President Donald Trump in the region.

He moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, after recognizing the contested city as the capital of Israel.

He’s cut all U.S. funding to the U.N. agency dealing with Palestinian refugees.

Then in March, Trump officially recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Occupied Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 War.

The White House has acknowledged that its economic framework can only move forward if the political issues are resolved.